First look at six Democrats running for Congress

Democratic voters shopping for a candidate in the 1st Congressional District enjoy plenty of choices from their party right now.

There are three men and three women in the race, and each is a slightly different shade of Democrat.

Each offers a unique tone and style and personal biography. On policies, however, they differ by degrees making it hard to discern their dissimilarities.

It only became slightly less fuzzy Friday night when the six sat on bar stools on a raised platform in the Machinists Union Hall in Everett for a two-hour forum.

As this was the first time they had shared a stage at a public event on the campaign trail, no one in the audience quite knew what to expect. Maybe a verbal melee along the lines of what we’ve seen from the Republicans running for president?

No dice. Oratorical peace prevailed as they answered softball questions in predictable fashion, stimulating a handful in the all-labor crowd to depart once the cookies wore off and the coffee urn hit empty.

With a few days to think about all that I heard, here’s my takeaway of the candidates (in alphabetical order.)

Darcy Burner, Carnation: She entered as the most liberal Democrat and didn’t disappoint by castigating, time and again, “oil barons” and “bankers” for pursuing policies of profiteering at the expense of the public good. Her claim of having met the Taliban — “and they’re not good people” — was one of the night’s most unforgettable comments. Meanwhile, she further burnished her lefty reputation this week with disclosure of old tweets in which she calls President Barack Obama a Republican.

Suzan DelBene, Medina: The race’s wealthiest candidate positioned herself as a workhorse for the middle class. Her approach paid off this week as she snagged endorsements from the Machinists and the Teamsters. Clause for clause, she delivered the fewest rhetorical blasts of any candidate in the forum. She talked about her humble upbringing rather than trumpet her money-making career as a Microsoft executive, which may provide financial stimulus for her campaign down the stretch.

Roger Goodman, Kirkland: Hard-pressed to stand out in the crowded field, this state representative argued his ability to win elections in a legislative swing district makes him the most electable. He’s a good friend of labor and achieved a solid voting record as a liberal. These days he’s also become a voice for reforming state laws on marijuana. House Speaker Frank Chopp may not want to lose Goodman and, if so, he might be able to keep him with the right committee chairmanship.

Steve Hobbs, Lake Stevens: He’s the only avowed moderate Democrat in the race and didn’t hide it. In answer to one question, the leader of the “Roadkill Caucus” said he supports privatizing jobs not tied to the “core functions” of government. That’s heresy in a union hall. They weren’t smiling when he said sometimes the right thing to do means going against one’s friends and compromising with one’s enemies. Credit him for showing up. Several in the crowd opposed his re-election in 2010 and continue fighting him now in Olympia.

Darshan Rauniyar, Bothell: He is the political newcomer who proved the most passionate throughout the evening. At times it was moving such as when the native of Nepal talked of his living the American dream and watching it disappear for others. He is a work in progress. He knows what he dislikes about Congress and now needs a clearer message on what he wants to do about it and how his skills an entrepreneur can help him get it done.

Laura Ruderman, Kirkland: This former state lawmaker won a seat in a Republican district yet is an unapologetic liberal who will not cede political turf easily. That said, she spoke honestly about why she used to think those with financial means should not receive Social Security and now believes they should. The idea behind Social Security, she said, is everyone is entitled to it and means testing would wrongly deny it to some. Ruderman is a tireless fundraiser and doorbell ringer and she’s hoping those traits pay off in the primary.

Independent Larry Ishmael took part Friday — and I’ll provide more on him in the future. The one Republican, John Koster, did not attend though he did get his share of mentions by the candidates.

They all seemed to agree on one thing — they are the best able to beat him.

Political reporter Jerry Cornfield’s blog, The Petri Dish, is at Contact him at 360-352-8623 or

Talk to us

More in Local News

A 1.2-mile stretch of 236th Street NE near Arlington will be fully closed May 31 through Sept. 2 for a road project. (Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians)
Months-long closure ahead for 236th Street NE near Arlington

The Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians is widening lanes, adding a separated shared path and improving wildlife crossings.

Nate Nehring (left) and Sam Low.
Snohomish County’s LGBTQ Pride proclamation gets no GOP support

Councilmember Nate Nehring said it would violate his “personal conscience” by “celebrating particular lifestyles.”

Denny’s employee hospitalized after shooting south of Everett

A group of people was asked to leave. Someone fired a gun. A suspect was arrested.

2 teens arrested after Everett shooting, 100 mph chase

A young man was shot in the leg at an apartment near Voyager Middle School, where kids were being released for the day.

Pair identified in apparent murder-suicide in Everett

Police believe a man killed a woman, then himself. No arrests were made. No suspects were believed to be at large.

Law enforcement stand guard at the front driveway to Cascade High School as multiple agencies attempt to track down a suspect who reportedly had a firearm near campus Friday, May 27, 2022, in Everett, Washington. Dozens of concerned family members arrived to the school and stood along Casino Road waiting to find out what was happening. An airsoft pistol was recovered during a security sweep. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Apparent threat at Cascade High turned out to be airsoft gun

Two Everett schools went into lockdown Friday as police conducted security sweeps of their campuses.

Hydraulic fluid from a Waste Management garbage truck damaged roads in Mountlake Terrace June 23, 2021. The company hired crews to put absorbent material on the fluid and swept it, but several areas need to be repaired this year. (Mountlake Terrace)
Truck leak prompts 2 miles of road work in Mountlake Terrace

About 50 gallons of hydraulic fluid spilled from a Waste Management garbage truck last June.

Homicide suspect arrested in separate murder-for-hire sting

New court papers connect Selvin Rosales-Sevilla, of Mountlake Terrace, to the killing of Kevin Nieto Mejia at Ebey Island.

Logo for news use featuring Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Bird flu comes to Snohomish County, via backyard flock

Where exactly was not immediately released. But flock owners should be vigilant to prevent further spread of the virus.

Most Read